Purpose of review: A review of articles published since January 2012 on the topic of cord blood banking and cord blood stem cell transplantation was conducted for this the 25th anniversary year of the first cord blood transplant performed in a human.
Recent findings: Cord blood banking is performed throughout the world. Umbilical cord blood (UCB) transplantation is recognized as an acceptable alternative stem cell source for paediatric and adults requiring a haematopoietic transplant, particularly for patients of racial and ethnic minorities. To further advance the use of UCB, methods to enhance UCB stem cell expansion, engraftment and maintenance may be required. Controversy on the most effective and economically sustainable model for banking and storing an optimal UCB product continues to persist.
Summary: Cord blood banking and transplantation of cord blood stem cells has advanced rapidly over the initial 25 years, as more than 30 000 patients have benefited from the therapy. New concepts on the use of methods to expand UCB stem cells for transplantation and use for nonhaematopoietic indications may increase demand for UCB over the next few decades.